Meghan Austin

At an art opening, the woman saw a couple fighting and decided one had given the other herpes. The woman was in love with the older half of the couple. Later, whenever the couple fought at parties, she thought: oh, it's about the herpes again. That could really tear up a relationship.

The woman balanced herself atop her girlfriend, worried about morning saliva smell. The woman's girlfriend only had sex at night except this once. "Don't stop," the girlfriend said and pulled the woman's hand into an area that it had rarely traversed except blindly. A mole appeared somewhere the woman hadn't expected.

One of the woman's previous relationships had happened entirely in the morning, but this was in college, in a sparsely populated library reading room.

Sometimes the woman told herself, "I love my beautiful girlfriend," when there was no longer an object to which "girlfriend" referred. The girlfriend was always gone, or leaving, and would talk to you when she was ready, in other words, never.

The woman searched casual encounter ads with the keyword "bend," "force," or "suck." It did not matter the gender of who was bending, forcing or sucking whom. She liked reading the poorly written stories and imagined herself as an unrelated but interested party or the violating and violated at the same time. Doesn't everyone? The best ads were posted for cities like Portland, Oregon, where residents were underemployed and had purer ideas about exploitation, not San Francisco, where fetishes were annoying and complicated and sounded like jobs. Often the woman would click her way through most of the country and then some X-Tube.

"So that's why people in blowjob videos wear glasses."

The woman went to a party to find a new girlfriend. This girlfriend had a confusing danceclub fantasy: male genitalia exposed and shaken rhythmically, shirts composed of paper-towel material which women lifted, exposing themselves at flashlights, but especially to the bartenders, for drinks.

The woman yawned. It sounded a lot like a club in Wicker Park that had closed a few years before the girlfriend was old enough to move to town. "Have you read the Story of O? Of course not. You're like 12."

"Wow, I'm sweaty," said the girlfriend. "Can we smoke in here or what?"

The woman fell asleep with her arm draped over this girlfriend, thinking about the herpes couple and how they'd always be together, regardless of how miserable and possibly diseased they became, how she could never break them up because she was so often distracted thinking about things that weren't really happening. There was a time before that couple was even together. The woman once had a chance with this other woman and maybe would again, but it seemed unlikely or impossible, like most things she wanted and could not really imagine.

Meghan Austin lives and writes in Chicago. Her work has been published recently in The 2nd Hand, Failbetter and The Mississippi Review.

To link to this story directly:

Photo detail on main page courtesy of Warm Sunny Days.

w i g · l e a F               09-20-08                                [home]